doctor no

1. “escape addiction,”

the doctor says,

I wait out the pause

the dot dot dot

(three little indians, no feathers)

before I ask “how?”

“you misunderstand,” he replies,

“that’s the diagnosis”


2. “Nurse Scalpel?”

“Yes Doctor?”

“prepare yourself…”

[a painted nail

takes the pulse

the color,

a thin layer,

really just a cover,

on which we judge

this pornographic literature

(and we HOWL)]


3. “lycanthropy,”

the doctor says

the moon is liquid

the moon is a peephole

on indeterminate skin,

the watching animals

claw together

loose change


4. at some point

in american history

there was a mass vaccination

against imagination

we were spoon-fed

warm bits of plastic

blister packs

about wounded hearts


(are you safe

up on your hook,

behind your barcode armor?

we hear the squeaks,

from a distance ,

rats on christmas eve

are we the gifts

or the teeth? and,

how do you ever sleep?)


5. “ugly duckling syndrome”

he says

turns his head and coughs

and pisses in my water

(I shaved this morning

so in the mugshot I wouldn’t

look like a lamb to the slaughter) 


small town murder

 1. you are

a small town murder mystery

and you don’t know why


“don’t touch they body,” they say

but all the fingerprints

stack into a photograph

of a shifting desert seen static


2. we went to church

to interview witnesses

they held their tongues

like leather leashes

pulled taut by rabid hearts

(“this is the blood

this is the body”

this is the aural wallpaper

in the room where

they’ve painted themselves

into corners

with the rudimentary tools

of sunlight and stained glass)


3. we touched the body

found a map cut into the skin

the cartographer: the broken mirror

rumor suggests

it leads to the fountain of youth

rumor goes

that she faced that full length photograph

and tried to shake herself awake


4. we went

about the anthill

looking for witnesses

but all the secrets are kept

behind each white picket fence

every outward semblance

of a smile

(the grass is always greener

when treated with chemicals)


5. this is the blood

this is the body

you are

and you don’t know why

(you’re young

but you’ve been dying

a long time)



1. in the beginning

god opened his crayon box

like a missile silo in the middle of nowhere

used all the blue for the sky

all the green for the earth

all the black for the hearts

the brown for the dirt

(left us with just the red and

and a rusted sharpener)


“in school today

we learned “mars” as a verb

we learned of class


the science inside us

that fights and creates the energy

we harness in our self-destruction”

(the cliques, the clicks, the boom)


(in the beginning mars

was the god

of war)


2. she calls it a map

of the first place she lost

control and/of memory

once it all made sense but

once is never enough

the presents leave paper cuts as we grow up

the present feels like a sad song

in the movie credits, all the black and all the names

and just one voice screaming


she wears a razor on a silver chain

around the vase of her throat

flowered once but no

longer honey

-suckle(the smallest part torn out

for the littlest bit of sweetness)


3. and maybe it’s just training wheels

cause baby it’s all down hill

from here(hold on)


“a self-centered elizabeth bathory

in a claw-foot bathtub

razor like a sliver of a moon

in the sky of her blue hand”

-quote the private eyes in the police report

and the black and white photographs

show the slashes as silver linings

a clouded girl who rained

but watched it evaporate


4. in the beginning


was habitable


(she called it a map

of the first place

she lost)



Joe Quinn


Joe Quinn is a 33 year old poet living in Kentucky. Author of four previous collections, all available at, the most recent collection entitled “escape artist.”


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